Be active in the office

Get on up! Be active in the office

Most of us realise we should get more exercise. The Australian Government recommends that adults should be active most days and aim for 2 ½ – 5 hours of moderate exercise or 1¼ – 2 ½ hours of intense activity per week. It can be a challenge to fit exercise into a busy working week, so Evoke Projects looks at office design strategies to bring fitness to the office!

‘Fitness’ is one of the seven key building design concepts that can be benchmarked within the WELL Building Standard®. As 90% of our time is spent within the built environment, urban planning, building and office design strategies that encourage more physical activity or discourage sedentariness can promote a more active lifestyle.

When planning your next office fit-out or office refurbishment, you can use the suggestions below to achieve greater office wellness.

Office fit-out or refurbishment checklist for a more active workforce:

  1. To encourage intermittent bouts of physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour, consider office designs that have accessible, safe, and visually appealing stairs, entryways, and corridors. Stair climbing is a low-impact, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that burns calories and can improve cardiorespiratory fitness and lower the risk of stroke.
  2. Within your office design plans, create an ‘activity’ zone. This could be a breakout zone during the main work day that transforms into a keep fit area before or after work. If you have enough office space, add some gym equipment such as an exercise bike, treadmill or pull-up bar. Combine work and play with a treadmill desk or a bicycle desk for even greater benefits!
  3. If your office fit-out scope includes any outdoor areas, consider adding elements that encourage people to leave the office and go outside e.g. drinking fountains, pleasant landscaping or art, benches.
  4. Re-design your office space during your office refurbishment to include a changing room and a shower. This will encourage employees to be active at lunchtime or perhaps walk or jog to work.
  5. Secure bicycle storage facilities and on-site bike maintenance tools could bring out the Cadel Evans in your team!
  6. You’ve probably heard the new expression ‘Sitting is the new smoking’. Maybe this is an exaggeration, but encouraging less sedentary time is certainly a good thing. Height adjustable or stand-up desks are on trend from an office design perspective, and they are ergonomically designed to improve health and productivity. The average office worker sits down for around 75% of their day, so height adjustable workstations give employees more control over their posture and comfort.

As well as a new office fit-out or office refurbishment, there are other ways to encourage more activity at work.

  • Discuss potential incentives with your management team. Bicycle subsidies and share schemes, discounted gym memberships or reimbursements related to attendance are ideas put forward by WELL.
  • Allow breaks for physical activity within the work day.
  • Take your meetings outside and get the creative juices flowing as you walk around a nearby park.

If your employees need motivation, let them know that ‘Physical inactivity is the second greatest contributor, behind tobacco smoking, to the cancer burden in Australia’.1 The Department of Health has a great informational brochure called Make your Move – Sit less – Be active for life! that you can order free from their website.

The WELL Building Standard has more detail about office design best practice. Please visit their website for more information or talk to the team at Evoke Projects.

A new office fit-out or office refurbishment is an opportunity to consider your company’s approach to office wellness. Please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out about office designs that focus on wellness.

1. Source: Global Health Risks: Mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. World Health Organization, 2009.

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